California constituents will vote this November on Proposition 1, which would enshrine reproductive rights in the California constitution. As a reproductive rights advocate, I believe Prop. 1 is necessary to protect freedom of choice and prevent further wrongful infringements on women’s rights.
Prop. 1, a direct response to the Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, is arriving at a crucial moment to reinforce women’s reproductive rights as well as their right to privacy. However, opponents of the proposition, led by the California Together, No On Proposition 1 campaign, claim it will cost taxpayers millions and expand abortion rights to a harmful extent because it does not address restrictions surrounding viability.
According to the California voter guide, the proposition “amends California Constitution to expressly include an individual’s fundamental right to reproductive freedom, which includes the fundamental right to choose to have an abortion and the fundamental right to choose or refuse contraceptives.”
Currently, California law allows abortions up to viability, which is when a fetus is capable of surviving outside of the woman’s body, or after if necessary for the woman’s life or health. Although California already protects abortion rights to this extent, including these rights in the California constitution would be invaluable. It would provide extra protection for women’s rights because what is thought to be guaranteed can be rescinded — as we saw in the overturning of Roe v. Wade, what I perceive as a horrific miscarriage of justice.
Prop. 1 would double down on protecting reproductive rights. It would be a message to the states that are currently robbing women of their right to privacy. To me, and I think to all the women experiencing this, the proposition is a substantial step towards regaining the nationwide right to choose, as it puts pressure on the states currently moving in the opposite direction.
I cannot express how angry I became while reading the “No on Prop 1” campaign website, as well as the argument against Prop. 1 in the voter guide. They repeatedly emphasize that the proposition would waste millions of taxpayer dollars, especially because they claim it would result in an influx of non-California residents seeking late-term abortions.
California Together claims that “Prop 1 spends more than $200 Million a year on abortions.” However, the proposition has no direct fiscal effects and does not allocate any spending, according to the official California voter guide. The “$200 million” that they reference is how much California has already allocated to expanding reproductive health services in the 2022-23 budget, unrelated to Prop. 1, according to an article by KQED.
Additionally, opponents of Prop. 1 warn in the voter guide that it would allow abortion, “for any reason at any time up to the moment of birth — even when the mother’s life is not in danger, even when the healthy baby could survive outside the womb.”
This argument is dangerously misleading: According to the CDC, only 1% of abortions nationwide occur after 21 weeks. A whopping 93% occur at or before 13 weeks, the first trimester.
Opponents of Prop. 1 have latched onto the idea that, if passed, women would be able to and want to get abortions in very late stages of pregnancy.
“It is reprehensible to enshrine in the State Constitution the practice of abortion even until moments before delivery,” said Roman Catholic Bishop Jaime Soto, who is also a member of the California Catholic Conference, in a statement.
Phrases akin to “moments before delivery” imply women will take advantage of expanded abortion rights to abort fetuses on a whim. As if women would spontaneously decide to get an abortion at nine months pregnant, just for kicks.
Statistics — not to mention common sense — show that women do not get abortions late in pregnancy for anything beyond life- or health-threatening circumstances. Listening to anyone who says or hints otherwise is ludicrous to me.
It is true that Prop. 1 has the potential to expand abortion rights beyond the current cutoff at viability; however, this does not mean women will take advantage of this by getting late-term abortions. According to a KQED article, Pratima Gupta, an OB-GYN in San Diego who was involved in drafting Prop. 1, said the term “viability” was purposely excluded from the proposition. The wording is designed to prevent legal restrictions based on “viability” which is complex and difficult to legally define.
The proposition would not result in women flocking to get abortions late in pregnancy: Research from the CDC and Guttmacher Institute shows that abortions rarely occur after 21 weeks, and when they do, are primarily a result of medical complications. Rather, the proposition could end the imposition of imperfect legal definitions on the right to choose — leaving the question of viability and reproductive decisions up to medical professionals and their patients. Even living in California, the lingering fear that my right to choose could be revoked haunts me. As a woman, my medical decisions should be up to me alone, which is why I believe Prop. 1 is vital.
Prop. 1 would reinforce women’s right to privacy, leaving crucial medical decisions up to those whom they pertain to and medical experts, instead of the state. California Together itself says “We must keep healthcare decisions where they belong — with the people and their physicians.”
Prop. 1 will reinforce reproductive rights, ensuring the safety of women and protesting the current backlash against women’s rights. I believe that its ambiguity, rather than being a flaw, will fortify women’s right to privacy.